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Prologue – “The Great Coffee Shortage”

‘Coffee made the steamlands go round’ or so Beryl had been told.  She never understood the phrase since she did not like coffee, but she occasionally considered it like a riddle.

Despite her lack of comprehension, she saw others pine for the lost coffee fields of the past. The feline decided to invest in their return and financed the construction of the new plantations.

All the coffee from Mondrago had been grown in fields she owned for years.  And for years she had not understood what this meant, if anything.  Her mind was not what it once was, and mathematics had not returned since her injuries.

But she remembered people and ships well enough, and too many of those had gone missing.  It was hardly the thing to bother the Commodore about, as the ships were not going missing in Babbage waters.   Beryl instead consulted with the newly approved Ambassador Melnik to see if he knew anything.

The subsequent altercation with Domino distracted her from her purpose, and several more ships disappeared heading to New Babbage.

Scottie had noticed the problem himself, and it was not just air or nautical ships from Mondrago.  While they discussed the problem, Leon’s airship was shot down in port by a band of unknown pirates.  He survived, but Cyan Rayna and his crew had been captured.

Leon said that they had wanted to know if he was carrying any coffee before his escape.  Days later, another ship carrying coffee was attacked and more hostages taken.

She had already made her suggestion to the Magistrate with his approval.  They shut down exports between Mondrago and New Babbage until the pirate’s were routed thoroughly. She suspected that other cities would soon do the same if they carried coffee to the city, or any kind of beverage.

She had heard a few rumbling about smugglers soon enjoying some high profits from price gouging.  Others were complaining about Captain Heinrich, who was more active than she had been in months.  At least one person had gone off to hoard their ‘precious’ beans after she had shared the news.

Beryl could only shake her head as she prepared a reward poster for whomever could bring an end to this headache.  Babbage could survive half a month or so with limited coffee supplies couldn’t it?

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